Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Safely Ensconced with John Milton & Lucifer

This year's convention program cover
I have arrived. The drive was a bit nerve wracking as it rained all the way down here and it poured just as I got to the St. Louis downtown area. I'm so out of practice behind the wheel. But no mishaps and only one person honked at me the entire five hours. That's pretty damn good for me! (BTW - how on Earth did we ever manage to get anywhere without GPS? Maps and road atlases? They seem so prehistoric.) I had 15 minutes to get into early registration at the convention site and I took of like Mercury with an imperative message from Mt. Olympus, running all the way to the hotel from a cheap street parking space about four blocks away. Even equipped with an umbrella and windbreaker I was something of a wet mess when I got to the registration table. This is what comes of late registration and missing out on the convenience of staying in the hotel where the convention is actually held. I'm staying in two hotels - one tonight and another within walking distance for the bulk of the convention Thurs, Fri and Sat.

Tonight I'm staying in The Cheshire, apparently a historic landmark among the hotels of St. Louis (it dates back to the 1920s). It had been closed for decades but has recently undergone a multimillion dollar renovation and is now transformed into a boutique hotel. It re-opened in August of this year. I read a little bit about it on-line and I thought it would be a neat splurge for one night. But what I failed to realize was that in addition to being a faux British hotel with English breakfast in the morning, a pub, and a parking garage that forces you to drive on the left hand side, the entire hotel has a British literary theme.

I entered the hotel from a stairwell that took me past several rooms on the ground floor I saw that each room was named after literary figure: Henry Fielding, Rudyard Kipling, A. A. Milne and even a James Bond Suite and a Death on the Nile Suite in honor of the Grande Dame herself. With all this mixture of the lofty and the popular of British fiction I was hoping that my room would be named in honor of someone suitable for the crime fiction weekend. I missed it by one. My room is the John Milton on the second floor. A lushly illustrated copy of Paradise Lost with an introduction by Philip Pullman (that's appropriate) is on the nightstand next to a very comfy armchair. But right next door is the Emma Orczy room, creator of Lady Molly of Scotland Yard, the Old Man in the Corner and -- of course -- the Scarlet Pimpernel. So I'm in good company. Also on my floor are rooms named after Anthony Burgess, Arthur C. Clarke, William Golding, James Joyce, George Orwell and opposite from me is, uh, the Tales of Peter Rabbit Suite. Joyce would be snickering at his close proximity to Beatrix Potter, I think. It all sounds cutesy and tacky, I know. But it's not at all. It's damn swank, if you ask me.

Here's a photo of my room.

And here's the comfy chair. Spanish Inquisition not included (thankfully).

Did I forget to mention the pen & quill themed artwork hanging on the wall above the handsomely designed writing desk?

I'll bet my room at the Westin where I will remain for the rest of the convention will pale in comparison. At least I'll have one night of well deserved luxury here at The Cheshire.


  1. Looks like you're already ahead of the game, John. Great hotel, I'm thinking. Even if it's only for one night.

    You're going to have a blast, John. Bouchercon is SO MUCH FUN!

    I've only ever been once, a few years ago to the Las Vegas conference, but wow, I've never forgotten it.

    Keep us posted!!

  2. Very cool, John. Glad you made the drive without mishap. That hotla does look nice, indeed. At the Monterey Bouchercon, years back, I stayed in a small hotel that was er, up the hill a bit. That was fine going down to the con hotel, but in the latish evening, after drinks, dinner, another drink, it ws big huff-puff going back up. I learned my lesson and always get into the con hotel.

    Love the post, keep 'em coming, please!

  3. What a cool hotel! I don't think it's cutesy at all. I might even be able to stand it if I were put in the Milton (not one of my all-time favs by a long shot).

    Great post!

    Have a wonderful time!